In the second of a two-parter, regular contributor Alex Aloschi-Hopfner finds out what challenges Tom Bell faces on and off the footy field, and the exhilaration he gets when playing for the Carlton Blues in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Tom Bell plays for Carlton Football Club, and has been in Carlton since 2012. Tom has had many highlights – good and bad. He’s had many injuries – mainly stress fractures – it’s a challenge for him to play the game at times. Tom started playing AFL in 2012 at his first game which was in Round 17 – Carlton versus Western Bulldogs where he got his first goal during the game. Tom’s a strong player during the game and really puts his effort during his training sessions to achieve his best outcome.
Why did you choose to play football instead of doing something else in your life?
“The reason why I wanted to become a football player instead of doing something else would be that AFL is something that has aspired me and just like anyone else who plays AFL or wants to play AFL, it’s a career that you want to do.
“Before I played AFL, I was a refrigerator mechanic apprentice for 3 years back in Brisbane and I just wanted to take a step up and play for the AFL“
When you were being drafted, did you want to go to Carlton?
“Well, yes. I eventually wanted to go down to Melbourne to be in a team, because Melbourne is ‘practically’ home to a lot of AFL teams. I also wanted to be in Carlton, because it’s a huge team overall than other teams to be in.”
At what age was AFL your passion?
“AFL was a passion for me in Year 9. AFL was a passion a bit later because there wasn’t a huge fan base over there. So when I was growing up back in Brisbane I was playing soccer and also doing cross country.”
What challenges do you face when playing a game?
“The challenges I face would be overcoming the games. Usually the games are hard and stressful at times of whom you play so you really need to get ready for the next game!
“Another challenge to me would be getting ready for the next game. The next game can vary so you need to prepare for anything and that’s why you really need to focus at training and during the game – If you look away for not even a second, you don’t know what’s happening.
“One thing which is a mini challenge for me would be not going to my friends 21st’s parties. Because I’m from Brisbane it’s hard for me to go back and forth to see my friends and celebrate their birthdays, etc and it’s something that I miss because they are my original friends.”
What has been to most challenging part in your AFL career?
“The most challenging part in my AFL career would be when I first started playing for Carlton. When I came into Carlton’s hands I had a few stress fractures and injuries so I couldn’t play for 12 weeks, and that was really hard. This meant I had to train slowly but still be part of the team to catch up with everything.”
Was there a role model that motivated you to play AFL?
“There was a role model that motivated me and that was one of my family friends – Justin Leppitsch – and he was the one who really got me started on the AFL basis. Justin Leppitsch played for Brisbane at the start of 1993 and finished around 2006.”
Chris Judd is your mentor. Do you think he is a different role model or leader than you expected?
“I really had no idea to expect of what Chris Judd teaches in his styles, as everyone is different with how they teach.
“As well as Judd being the ex-captain of Carlton it’s a privilege to have him be my mentor and a person to guide me up as a professional football player.
“When Judd trains me, he isn’t a very pushy person nor a person who is very slack, he’s a person who trains you at a pace that you know you will progress at a nice pace. Judd as well when he teaches me, he knows what he is talking about with his experience, so you really know what you’re doing in your training session and at the game.”
Your first game was in round 17, what was one highlight in that game for you?
“Well as you said it was my first game, so really it was an exhilarating experience because I was playing in-front of 50,000 people.
“Luckily enough during the game I got my first goal in the first game of my career, and that was a huge thing to do during a game of AFL, especially during my first game. Playing my first game, was really a huge achievement for me to be in because of my first goal, but also other little things I accomplished.”